Be like Genevieve

I have one particular painting I like to come back to when I need to take my mind off the daily chase. Its theme is generally not important in my exercise in looking, but I will tell you that it is a representation of Saint Genevieve, painted by Hugo van der Goes.

Hugo van der Goes, Saint Genevieve, after 1479, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna

When I look at it, it start to recognize the various shades of ochre used to build the composition. I wander with my eyes over the misty bright female figure and distinguish between the play of light and shadow in the part of the niche in which she was placed. You should try it for yourself, it’s very pleasant to gradually discover how many shades are hidden in one colour. I can only assume that for the painter creating these subtle passages was a form of meditation too, like any activity that requires complete concentration. Finally, when I’m ready to get back to the life’s bustle, I take a look at the figure of a little demon trying to blow out a candle flame. It inflates up to the tip of its nose and blows with all its might, but the flame barely moves and doesn’t go out. And Genevieve reads on unmoved. I think that we have to be like her, focus on the substance of things and not pay attention to external interferences, as they will eventually pass away. And I wish that for all of us!

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